Museums & Galleries NSW chief executive Maisy Stapleton warns the existing Lismore Regional Gallery in Molesworth Street is well past its use-by date.
Museums & Galleries NSW chief executive Maisy Stapleton warns the existing Lismore Regional Gallery in Molesworth Street is well past its use-by date.

Galleries chief wants arts centre

ONE of the country’s leading arts organisations has called on the Lismore City Council to proceed with the proposed Margaret Olley Arts Centre.

In an unusual move, Museums & Galleries NSW chief executive Maisy Stapleton has written to The Northern Star warning the community would be the ‘true loser if the arts centre does not proceed’.

The letter, published in today’s letters page, comes as the council has rejected claims by gallery opponents that loan repayments would significantly reduce the money available in its operating budget for roads.

The Fact Sheet posted on the council’s website yesterday says if the gallery did not proceed only $47,000 extra funds would be available for roads next financial year, rising to $440,000 in 2012/13.

Ms Stapleton, who visited the proposed site in February, yesterday said she wrote the letter because the arts centre, if built, would be the key to the national network of regional galleries.

“If one gallery is in need of support we are interested in talking about it because all galleries in the network should be up to a certain standard,” she said.

“Galleries are an exciting place to visit, but the physical side (of the current gallery) lets that down.”

Ms Stapleton said art appealed to a broad cross section of society and should be supported, citing research that has found the number of people, particularly tourists, who visit galleries is rising.

Tweed Shire Council says its gallery attracts 60,000 visitors annually, while a new Lismore gallery is expected to attract 40,000 a year.

“Lismore is a city rich in artistic talent and we would advocate that the presentation of high quality local art merits a more professionally designed space that more appropriately recognises the talents of those artists,” Ms Stapleton writes.

“In addition, the current gallery’s ability to attract outside exhibitions of local, state and national importance will inevitably diminish, as environmental standards for the showing and lending of art works becomes more crucial to lenders.

“The current storage of the artworks – the community’s assets – in makeshift accommodation is entirely inadequate and the limited access to the upper floors restricts the gallery’s visitor’s ability to view works.”

Councillors will vote next Tuesday whether to proceed with the project.



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